Fire has been coming up in my dreams. It never appears directly, but “off-stage”, part of the message of the dream. In one, I was given a particular “hero’s journey” to make to the sun, so that everything I didn’t need could be burned away and I’d come back changed. I wasn’t sure it was something I could do, but the teacher was confident. In another dream, the fire was coming to me: I was waiting in the center of a circle of people and surrounded by crystals, waiting for a spiritual fire to descend from a dragon’s maw to cleanse me. I’d done it “twice before” already, and just needed another pass.
These messages were clear, if skeptically received by myself; I just needed the past week to find out why a drastic cleansing by fire was needed. There have been some emotional wounds I’ve borne for a long time, from childhood or earlier, and the time to leave them behind was banging on the door. Maybe the thing I needed was a dragon-fire cauterisation, or a phoenix-style rebirth in the sun. My guides aren’t subtle, sometimes. They work through dreams, but then people are put into my path to drive home the message as well. It’s funny that yesterday a relatively new (and good) friend was trying to teach me about branding and rebranding. (Branding! One more thing that people traditionally did with fire. I feel some comforting pats on my head right now for catching that.)
There are some art projects and commissions I’ve done over my career solely for money. I often gave low quotes, worked too hard and too long for too little, then would chase desperately for the next one, often hesitating on the paintings I really wanted to do because all the ones I painted so far for love had no buyers. I have no doubt this is a challenge most artists face starting out, but I’ve been at this over 10 years now without a change in approach, and it’s due. But I’m not going to lie to myself to downplay the challenges I face, even if my uncertainty and extreme self-criticism suddenly drop away: My art isn’t mainstream, and I am hampered by my location (it’s exceedingly hard to get the artwork out in physical locations, something I had more access to when living in the States), and I’m hoping that approaching publishers, I will not be disadvantaged that I am halfway around the world from them. (For the last, I often shot myself down before trying. I hope I will be proved wrong when I finally get the courage.)
My work is cut out for me. I know the inner work I must do, because my dreams have been putting the messages and tools in my hands none-too-subtly, and as much as I resent the outer challenges: People offering well-meaning advice that draws out hurt, I can also see them as tools to judge my progress. And perhaps I can inform these people (who do love me) how much of what they’ve done has really helped, or not at all. I’ve lived long enough to know I want to paint even though I’ve had years–decades–of discouragement. Surely this persistence must count for something. I know this is what I want to do, even if I don’t know how I will be supported going forward, but I’ve always never known that. This lack of knowledge may have sabotaged my efforts and confidence, but it’s never made a dent in my desire to keep creating, nor stemmed the flow of images that appear in my mind’s eye.
So let me work on myself then. How interesting it will be, to tear down this old image of myself that I can only ever have mediocrity, obscurity, and poverty; of oscillating forever between desperation and exhaustion. How wonderful it would be after that, to be like Rose Tyler as Bad Wolf, to join with something larger and say “I am _____. I create myself.”
After all, I’ve been practicing all this while.